V. LENDING A HELPING HAND
|The church we entered had been turned
into a hospital and dedicated to Wounded Christ. The benches were brought together for the
wounded to lie on. Many of them had sustained serious wounds and were without arms or
legs. There was a lot of blood on the benches, while the heating was provided by a few
small wood burning stoves. The only unoccupied space left was around the altar. There were
monks from all Franciscan provinces there, who, after they changed, jointly said mass,
thanking Christ for enabling us to endure. Christ was listened to by the seriously wounded
and disabled, lying in their own blood, semi-conscious, uncertain of their future. He was
listened to by the inhabitants of the Lašva valley, for whom the aid just received meant
hope. He was listened to by truck drivers, journalists and other people from the
Humanitarian Mission, who were still in a profound shock after their long-lasting journey
through occupied Croatia. They had received a heartfelt welcome of every man and woman in
Tomislavgrad and Rama, endured the macadam road that lead to and over Makljan, they had
been kept waiting in apprehension in Rama, came under an attack in Gornji Vakuf and spent
a night in the open air on Pavlovica. They had been searched and shot at, and finally
arrived in Nova Bila to be welcomed by people with flags lining the street in front of the
church, by children’s song and Croatian folk costumes. Inside the church they joined the
wounded to hear Christ whose message was passed on to them from the altar by the monks who
had accompanied them on that exhausting and miraculous journey of faith.
We were all standing there, attentive, laughing and crying, going down on our knees and getting up, singing and being quiet, until all images and sounds merged into one. I was able to sense the omnipresence of Wounded Christ who was accepting what we had achieved and inspiring us to continue with our journey of goodness.
Where to? Haven’t we arrived ? I can’t stand it any longer!
There is no end to that journey. Whoever thinks he has reached its end is, in fact, abandoning it. Have faith in Christ, provide help to the wounded and give hope to these people. You had made a promise to lend a helping hand to Wounded Christ in this hospital!
Fear no longer any weapon, threat, any crime or any human being. Here in Bosnia, in the midst of a terrible war, fear no longer anyone but God.
I knelt down in front of Christ and, alone with him, I began praying :
Forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.”
I knew that Christ embraced this hospital and decided to help it, to help myself, to help us.
This conflict had to be ended so that we could truly help ourselves and tell the truth, to ourselves, to the world and to God. Every temptation was jeopardising the very survival of the Croatian people. At the same time, we had to maintain our dignity without being afraid to assert our identity. We would not have succeeded if it had not been for the miraculous help of the Wounded Christ.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit....”. I was one of them too, everything inside me was too weak and meaningless, poor and helpless. Nevertheless, if I was powerless in front of God, I was not in front of the enemy. Believing in God and my alliance with him, I felt empowered to resist anyone who tried to stop us.
I ended my prayer, went out of the church and joined the everyday life of the Advent in Nova Bila, in 1993.